If you work with fiber, you may very well enjoy the fiber show circuit that starts in Spring and lives on strong into late Fall. We all have our favorite festivals. I like to start the season every April with the Moonspinner’s fiber fest in Stephenson County, Illinois. Its down-to-earth approach reminds me of the practical side of my craft. Beautiful things can also be useful things. By the same turn, a practical life can also be a beautiful life.
On the other end of the season, my grand finale is always the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival the second week in September. I book a hotel and stay all three days. By the third day, I’ve blown all my money and am contriving ways to make one last purchase. I always promise that I will not, under any circumstances, buy another fleece. Oh, sorrowful weakness. I usually have a fleece in hand by noon on Day 1.
Both of these shows favor spinners. You can certainly get yarn and felting supplies, among other things, but they offer a great variety of fleeces, roving, and equipment. For an urban spinner, these essentials are hard to come by. Between these two shows in mid June is a different sort of gathering, unique–at least in this area–because along with all things fibery, it showcases fiber artists.
The Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair is this June 22-24 in Grayslake, Illinois. Now in its sixth year, this fair is a knitter/crocheter/quilter/spinner/rug hooker/felter/folk craft fair. It has always made welcome the work of local fiber artists alongside all the vendors and classes. Because you need both, of course. The one feeds the other and back again. Artists need ways to connect with the community because good art cannot exist in a vacuum. It needs to be in dialogue with the community so that art and the viewer can exchange meaning. The fiber artist and the fiber enthusiast need to support one another in a synergistic relationship; both sides are equally important. The organizers of the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair understand this, which is why I love to attend year after year.
And did I mention the live music?